2001-12-29 / Editorial/Opinion

Where Will They Go To School?

Where Will They Go To School?

Drive around the peninsula from Beach 9 Street to Belle Harbor and you will see new homes under construction almost everywhere you look. Rockaway, the last bastion of empty land nearby a beach has been discovered and families are rushing to purchase homes here. That is good for Rockaway. An infusion of middle class money, new commercial areas and a new belief that, "if you build them, they will come," is just what Rockaway needs. There is a question that arises, however, from all the home-building frenzy in Rockaway. Where will the children who live in those homes go to school? That is no idle question, nor is it a philosophical question about the quality of the schools. It is simply a question of seats. "We have a looming crisis in Rockaway," says local school board president Steve Greenberg. "We are building homes throughout the peninsula and there are no school seats available for the children who live in those homes to sit in." Greenberg is right. When PS 43 was built a few years ago, it was to relieve the overcrowding at a number of local elementary schools. Those schools remain overcrowded and so is PS 43. A new 700-seat elementary school slated for Far Rockaway will relive some of the overcrowding in the area, but not enough to make a difference. The new Arverne By The Sea project is slated to have its own "charter school," but that school will most likely be only for the students who live within that development. Even the parochial schools on the peninsula are overcrowded. "We have a real problem here," Greenberg says. "People are going to come to buy those houses and they are going to ask about the local schools. Are they going to be told that there is no room at those schools?" We cannot wait until the homes are completed and sold before we worry about the school question. The time to plan for those new students is now. It may, in fact, already be too late.


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